The Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary was reopened for visitors on Sunday after a gap of nearly 10 months.
The sanctuary was shut for visitors in 2019 during the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around 250 persons visited the sanctuary on Sunday. Officials from the Forest department said strict norms had been put in place to ensure safety of the visitors.
“Thermal scanners and sanitisers have been kept at the entrance and all visitors were expected to compulsorily wear masks. Our staff have been sensitised and all of them were asked to wear masks and gloves,” said G. Subbaiah, Sanctuary Range Officer. The place is open for visitors from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Currently, the Vedanthangal sanctuary has over 27 different species of birds that are around 16,000 in number. “In 2018, the tank was nearly dry and we had only around 2,000 birds, but this year, the rains have been good and the tank is brimming. There are glossy ibis, white ibis, pelicans, cattle egrets, large egrets, spot billed ducks, cormorants and herons among other birds,” Mr. Subbiah said. In 2019, the sanctuary had around 12,000 birds.
For sanctuaries in Tamil Nadu that have reopened for visitors, including the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department has issued SoPs, which specify guidelines on how to implement safety norms.
A senior forest official said since last year, field staff have been trained and sensitised to follow these safety measures and also ensure that visitors follow strict physical distancing guidelines as well as wear masks at all times.